Captain Warren East shares his latest experiences from a four-week luxury cruise in the Aegean Sea aboard M/S Turkish Delight.
Picking the right time to cruise in the Aegean Sea can be daunting, as you generally don’t want to get into a situation because you’ve overlooked the weather. After spending several winters on the water there, I have seen the best and worst of what Poseidon can throw at a boat and have thus far survived without the use of a marina.
There is no such thing as a hurricane in the Aegean, however in mid to late September, there are the Mistral and Bora, the northerly winds from France and Croatia. Inevitably these northerlys end up in the Ionian Sea with as much punch as a TRS (tropical revolving storm), unleashing themselves across the entire Aegean Sea and southern Mediterranean.
I have seen anti-cyclonic cells nearly 150 miles wide on satellite images, heading directly for me while I am anchored in Mykonos, right smack bang in the center of the Aegean! This situation requires as much planning as would a hurricane because the Greek Islands take no prisoners. The transition periods between extreme winter to summer, then when summer flows back into winter are when conditions begin to mix creating the greatest storm possibilities.
June 1, we set sail out of Turkey to explore the Greek Islands. Our objective was to get as close to the Greek mainland as possible before the northerly Meltemi winds started powering up.
First stop was Patmos where you can clear into the EU without the craziness of ferries and an overwhelming amount of tourists. The island has beautiful beaches, extremely good restaurants and high end architecture. It is also not overly populated, so is very peaceful.
At sunrise we lifted anchor and headed for Mykonos. A day at sea in calm conditions made the trip very easy for the crew and the boat. Mykonos is a charming Greek village turned Gucci. It thrives with life and offers some great nightlife from one extreme to the other. Great restaurants and hotels litter the island and everything is good there. There are several places to take a boat on the island depending on conditions. The south coast can accommodate a lot of yachts and offer very good protection from the Meltemi winds. This is an island not to be missed.
From there we used Paros, Antiparos, Sifnos and Polyaigos islands to leapfrog to Milos — another gem of the Aegean Sea. Between the beaches, hot springs, buried ruins, unbelievable rock formations and mineral mines, there is nothing short of a month of things to do for anyone arriving by boat. Ormos Milou, the main town on the inside of a giant crater, is a very safe place to anchor in most conditions. It’s also a nice place to enjoy the local lifestyle. I highly recommend visiting this island when you have a few days to spare.
By mid-June, we were beginning to see signs of the Meltemi, as central Europe started to warm up and the days got longer. Almost immediately, attention to the weather became a priority. Moving the boat became considerably more difficult as July rolled in. I have sailed the Greek Islands often and summer is my least favorite time. Catamarans of 70 to 100 feet have to be handled very carefully during this season. I’m happy to report that M/S Turkish Delight handled that new experience very well.
The planned destination was Santorini, via Folegandros, Sikinos and Ios, three islands that offer great lunch stops if the weather is fine. Ios has become a popular place with a reputation for fine beaches and good nightlife. Perhaps as an overflow from Mykonos, Ios is a great place to ride out a Meltemi.
Finally, we arrived in Santorini staying there for about two and a half weeks. We had a wonderful time but also experienced the first strong Meltemi for the year. It was one of the most powerful winds I have dealt with in over 20 years. It blew for four days and nights without a minute’s rest. We watched rapid erosion of the coastline and had to strip down the boat to avoid damage from dust. But that’s a story for another day!
Capt. Warren East left Mother England in 1995 for the last time on what was to be a journey into the unknown. Simply armed with a camera, he sailed to the Caribbean as crew on a handful of different sailing yachts, working for his passage. Shortly he earned the title of Captain of his first charter boat.
Warren quickly developed an eye for catamarans as they started to dominate the Caribbean market in both yacht sales and popularity. He founded East Yachts, Ltd. in 2003, setting out to build his own charter yacht brokerage. With the completion of his MCA, Master 3000 ticket, Warren soon found himself selling and project managing the design and construction of a prototype aluminium catamaran.
With many years experience in both catamaran sales and charters, Captain Warren is well positioned as an expert in the world of catamarans.
He manages his company from a variety of locations, most recently from his latest project, M/S Turkish Delight. She is a beautiful 85-foot Turkish Gulet that he and his partner and Chef Elizabeth Lee, operate as a luxury charter yacht between Bodrum and Antalya in Southern Turkey and the Greek Islands. www.turkishcharters.com